World Happiness Report 2020

The World Happiness Report is a landmark survey of the state of global happiness that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. The World Happiness Report 2020 for the first time ranks cities around the world by their subjective well-being and digs more deeply into how the social, urban and natural environments combine to affect our happiness.

WHR 2020


This is the eighth World Happiness Report. We use this Foreword, the first we have had, to offer our thanks to all those who have made the Report possible over the past eight years, and to announce our expanding team of editors and partners as we prepare for our 9th and 10th reports in 2021 and 2022. The first seven reports were produced by the founding trio of co-editors assembled in Thimphu in July 2011 pursuant to the Bhutanese Resolution passed by the General Assembly in June 2011, that invited national governments to “give more importance to happiness and well-being in determining how to achieve and measure social and economic development.” The Thimphu meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Jigme Y. Thinley and Jeffrey D. Sachs, was called to plan for a United Nations High-Level Meeting on ‘Well-Being and Happiness: Defining a New Economic Paradigm’ held at the UN on April 2, 2012. The first World Happiness Report was prepared in support of that meeting, bringing together the available global data on national happiness and reviewing evidence from the emerging science of happiness.

The preparation of the first World Happiness Report was based in the Earth Institute at Columbia University, with the research support of the Centre for Economic Performance at the LSE and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, through their grants supporting research at the Vancouver School of Economics at UBC. The central base for the reports has since 2013 been the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and The Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University directed by Jeffrey D. Sachs. Although the editors and authors are volunteers, there are administrative and research support costs, covered most recently through a series of research grants from the Ernesto Illy Foundation and illycaffè.

Although the World Happiness Reports have been based on a wide variety of data, the most important source has always been the Gallup World Poll, which is unique in the range and comparability of its global series of annual surveys. The life evaluations from the Gallup World Poll provide the basis for the annual happiness rankings that have always spurred widespread interest. Readers may be drawn in by wanting to know how their nation is faring, but soon become curious about the secrets of life in the happiest countries. The Gallup team has always been extraordinarily helpful and efficient in getting each year’s data available in time for our annual launches on International Day of Happiness, March 20th. Right from the outset, we received very favourable terms from Gallup, and the very best of treatment. Gallup researchers have also contributed to the content of several World Happiness Reports. The value of this partnership was recognized by two Betterment of the Human Conditions Awards from the International Society for Quality of Life Studies. The first was in 2014 for the World Happiness Report, and the second, in 2017, went to the Gallup Organization for the Gallup World Poll.

From 2020, Gallup will be a full data partner, in recognition of the importance of the Gallup World Poll to the contents and reach of the World Happiness Report. We are proud to embody in this more formal way a history of co-operation stretching back beyond the first World Happiness Report to the start of the Gallup World Poll itself.

We have had a remarkable range of expert contributing authors over the years, and are deeply grateful for their willingness to share their knowledge with our readers. Their expertise is what assures the quality of the reports, and their generosity is what makes it possible. Thank you.

Our editorial team has been broadening over the years. In 2017, we added Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Haifang Huang, and Shun Wang as Associate Editors, joined in 2019 by Lara Aknin. From 2020, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve has become a co-editor, and the Oxford Wellbeing Research Centre thereby becomes a fourth research pole for the Report.

Sharon Paculor has for several years been the central figure in the production of the reports, and we now wish to recognize her long-standing dedication and excellent work with the title of Production Editor. The management of media has for many years been managed with great skill by Kyu Lee of the Earth Institute, and we are very grateful for all he does to make the reports widely accessible. Ryan Swaney has been our web designer since 2013, and Stislow Design has done our graphic design work over the same period. Juliana Bartels, a new recruit this year, has provided an important addition to our editorial and proof-reading capacities. All have worked on very tight timetables with great care and friendly courtesy.

Our group of partners has also been enlarged, and now includes the Ernesto Illy Foundation, illycaffè, Davines Group, Blue Chip Foundation, The William, Jeff and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation, and Unilever’s largest ice cream brand Wall’s.

Our data partner is Gallup, and institutional sponsors now include the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, the Centre for Economic Performance at the LSE, the Vancouver School of Economics at UBC, and the Wellbeing Research Centre at Oxford.

For all of these contributions, whether in terms of research, data, or grants, we are enormously grateful.

John Helliwell, Richard Layard, Jeffrey D. Sachs, and Jan Emmanuel De Neve, Co-Editors; Lara Aknin, Haifang Huang and Shun Wang, Associate Editors; and Sharon Paculor, Production Editor

Appendices & Data


John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard, Jeffrey D. Sachs, and Jan Emmanuel De Neve, Co-Editors; Lara Aknin, Haifang Huang and Shun Wang, Associate Editors; and Sharon Paculor, Production Editor


Helliwell, John F., Richard Layard, Jeffrey Sachs, and Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, eds. 2020. World Happiness Report 2020. New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network